Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What makes a good grandma?

Amy Caroline left a comment in my last post which really got me thinking today. As I am officially "over the hill" in age, I am starting to think about the kinds of things that I have to look forward to. One of those is being a grandma. I pray I will be a grandma. I think out of four children I better be a grandma, don't you?

It was my mother's mother who I was really so close to (and who went to her eternal rest on Saturday). I think if you took a poll, I think most people would say they are closer to their mother's mother than their father's mother, but I could be wrong. It happened that way with me, but there were a lot of factors involved, one of which was that my father's mother was not very healthy and so we never spent long periods of time with her, more like structured, supervised visits. And she was "grandmother" never grandma, which even at an early age sort of set her apart as the less comfy grandma, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, since I have three sons and one daughter, I started thinking that I'm going to have to go the extra mile to be a great grandma, since the mothers of my daughters-in-law will have an advantage (from my possibly-skewed perspective). So, what makes a great grandma?

To me a great grandma (and by "great grandma" I don't mean your mother's mother's mother -- I mean an awesome grandma!) is:

♥️ One who loves without criticism. Not that you can't correct the children when need be (shush them in church), but leave all but the most critical disciplining to mom and dad. My grandma never told us to keep our elbows off the table, or use our napkins or brush our teeth. Well, on second thought, she probably did tell us to brush our teeth since we did a lot of overnights, but you know what I mean. I think grandmas should love without picking. I would go so far as to say it's important that grandmas NOT pick. To some that would be easy -- hey you did it enough when your kids were little. But, for some it's difficult -- to some people who are just brutally honest. I find this to be especially difficult when the children get to be teenagers and young adults. Some people just can't love without feeling the need to correct.

♥️ One who spoils, but not with money. My grandma gave us treats we didn't get at home. But, we had little money, both my grandma and my parents, so it wasn't hard to spoil us. But it also wasn't easy for my grandma either. She gave us potato chips and Coke, which we never got at home, and she made us tea with sugar and milk, something my mother never bothered to do, even though it was inexpensive. And on Sunday, after we walked to Mass at St. Bonaventure church, we walked to the German bakery and got a breakfast cheesecake and a tea ring to take home. Oh, those baked goods tasted so good with a cup of sweet, milky, hot tea in my grandma's kitchen. My grandma also spoiled us with her time. We spent a lot of nights with her and a lot of weekends, and we loved every minute.

♥️ One who doesn't spoil. Contrary aren't I? When we were at my grandma's, we were not doted upon. She treated us just like she treated her own kids (one of whom was just five when I came along), except we didn't have to do chores. Looking back I think that was good for us. When we spent time with my grandma, she cooked, cleaned, and sent us outside to play, but then she sat down and played cards or a game of checkers when her work was done.

♥️ One who loves, loves, loves. It didn't matter what we did, good or bad, my brothers and I knew that we were loved by my grandma. She might have had a hard day, or been tired from her hard life, but her face always lit up when we came into her home. She was just plain happy to see us. I don't think there is a substitute for that when you're a kid -- having someone who loves seeing your face is irreplaceable magic.

Do you have something to add to my list? I need to learn lots of good grandma tricks!

My grandma and grandpa in the early years with four out of eight of the children. There are now five alive. Twin boys died at birth and my mother's brother Ron, standing on the right, died at age 16 of cancer. My mom is seated on her father's right leg. 


  1. One who speaks of the past with great enthusiasm, gusto, and lots of vivid details; captivating the little listeners. :)

  2. One who is tuned in to her grandchildren, who can 'read' them. Not assume a relationship with them just due to blood, needs to build a relationship with them. Knows how to make a comment and then STOP, not to browbeat nor have the last word.
    Respects that her grandchildren are people in their own right not just an extension of her and her child, and appreciates the differences in her grandchildren even though she may not understand them. Realises that her children and grandchildren will have their own unique family culture not identical to hers and treads carefully.

    Oh dear I sound negative but I've had years to observe and watch.

  3. Same thoughts here as that next phase approaches. So sorry for your loss. Losing my maternal grandmother was wrenching for me. But she left a legacy.

  4. One who has the gift of time. Time just to spend with the child. Time to listen. Time to cherish.

  5. My grandma that I was talking to you about was my mother's mother! I have to agree with all your points. My grandmother was always there, but never pushed. Took me out for lunch or to go shopping, making me feel really special. But I never ever felt like she was trying to buy my love. It was always some special treat. I remember even once as a teenager I went to spend Halloween with her because she didn't like having to answer the door over and over. We watched movies and she bought fried chicken. Yet, it felt so special! She always made every visit with her feel like a big deal.
    She was also a great storyteller (she was an award winning author) and when I got older I didn't even care if the stories were true. It was just the chance to get to sit at her knee and listen to her talk of amazing adventures.

    So basically I would add that every visit is special and great stories!!

  6. My favorite grandmother was my mother's mother, too. That may have something to do with the divorce, so I saw her more. In fact, her home was a haven when I had to go visit my dad & stepmom who lived nearby! And then, my paternal grandmother my have had bad feelings toward my mom which kept her from being as warm as she might, though I loved her well. She was also about 20 years older than my other grandmother!

    I guess it's easier to be a grandmother when you finally realize kids have Free Will, and you can love and play with and spoil the grandchildren because you are more relaxed, and probably have more free time and money.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!